christopher collins left this world in 2017. he was my first love and for years, my only love. he was an integral part of HIV prevention youth program development in philadelphia.
we met in the mid-1990s. we were part of a group of black & brown queer & trans youth who were minding themselves. we didn’t have many mentors as most of the adults in our lives were either dying, caring for the dying, or traumatized by the impact HIV/AIDS had on our community.
we were kids building rome with bricks cemented by our commitment to fuckin’ exist without apologies and shame. we bought our first rainbow necklaces together. we imagined a world for us that was yet to be written about in the books we read but we still imagined.
we both worked in HIV non-profit. that shit drained us both of life and spirit. we built programs that we had no access to. we gave the world everything including our relationship.
chris and i would work together again in 2012. we facilitated a weekly youth group for black & brown trans & queer youth. we joked about all that we survived. we cried about how the work & movement sometimes does not love you back.
chris wanted the movement and work to love him back. some of us learn to breathe through straws under the weight of the world that tells us we are not enough, our love is not enough. and some of us choose to fly in a dimension where oxygen is not restricted. chris chose the latter.
chris, the loss of your spirit is felt by those of us who survived HIV prevention in the 1990s. it is felt by those of us who continue to (barely) survive the non-profit industrial complex. your loss is felt by everyone who thought this work would save us.
chris was my first love. he was my friend. he was one of the most important relationships i had in this work. i miss his laugh. i miss him. today, i raise him up.
louie ortiz-fonseca (he/they)